Cape Town International Jazz Festival

Ntsholeng “Citie” Seetso at the 2011 Cape Town International Jazz Festival. Photo © Cape Town Tourism

All that jazz

The annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival, a favourite among music lovers, celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2009. The melodious affair, previously known as the North Sea Jazz Festival, attracts local and international jazz fans, with more than 30 000 people usually attending.

Each year, 40 performers – an equal mix of African and international musicians – step onto the festival’s five stages to deliver some of the best jazz to be heard on the continent. Everything from classic jazz and funk to spoken-word and Afropop is performed over two days to an audience as diverse as the jazz styles themselves.

The popular festival always attracts high-calibre performers – past entertainers include Brazil’s Sérgio Mendes, South African great Hugh Masekela and American jazz maestro George Benson.

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival not only features performances by the world’s top musicians – it also boasts a free community concert in the historic Greenmarket Square. The legendary event features performances by several festival headliners and draws an audience of thousands.

The week-long festival also includes an arts journalism training programme that focuses on print, radio, TV and online media, providing attendees with the skills needed to master the art of music journalism. The week-long course, led by industry professionals, has limited space available, so early registration is encouraged.

A photographic exhibition celebrating all things jazz runs for three days during the festival. Renowned photographers such as Alf Kumalo and Herman Leonard, who has captured jazz greats Duke Ellington and Miles Davis, have exhibited at the festival in the past.

The festival calendar also features school music workshops, jazz master classes and “Gigs for Kids” – an opportunity for children to “explore the magical world of music”.

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival, sometimes referred to as “Africa’s grandest gathering”, plays an important role in preserving the cultural diversity of the Mother City and is one of the city’s most popular events.

The 2012 Cape Town International Jazz Festival is happening on March 30 and 31 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. 

Visit the Cape Town International Jazz Festival website at